The New England Culinary Institute (NECI) keeps a high profile in Vermont through the operation of popular restaurants showcasing the talents of its student and teaching chefs as well as Vermont’s food producers.  Taking NECI’s commitment to local, sustainable food a step further, NECI helped found the Farm to Table Enterprise Zone to develop and implement a regionally reproducible collaboration among food producers, schools, government, businesses, and hospitality providers. NECI’s role in expanding cooperation between those who grow, prepare, promote and sell food tracks with a recent decision to expand the school’s focus to the broader aspects of food, including where it comes from and how it is raised.


Middlebury College students discovered the intersection of academics and civics through a course entitled “Portrait of a Vermont Town,” led by Professor John Elder.  In 2008, students documented the stories of Starksboro residents and presented those stories back to the residents at a community dinner and storytelling celebration. This Starksboro Stories project culminated the first phase of the Art & Soul Civic Engagement initiative – a partnership of the Orton Family Foundation, the Vermont Land Trust, and the Town of Starksboro.  In the final phase of the project, townspeople identify concrete actions, policies, and choices to build a future based on values that emerge throughout all phases of the project.


At Southern Vermont College (SVC), students combine coursework and community-based projects starting in their first year.  As part of the “At War and In Peace: An Oral History Project,” students collaborated with veterans at the Vermont Veteran’s Home in Bennington to learn about one another’s lives and create oral and written histories. “Questing for Literacy: Guiding Middle Scholars in The Search for Wisdom Within and Without” is a project where SVC students work with local middle schoolers in one-on-one partnerships to explore their own roots, family history and ancestry, including DNA testing, based on a national program featured on PBS. Students share their findings by preparing an exhibit, “Exploring Faces of Diversity: Building the ‘I am…and I am from,” for the Bennington Museum.  Other courses foster student mentoring with elementary school children or working on habitat and land sustainability at a local reserve.


Burlington College established the Institute for Civic Engagement to provide a bridge between the academic community and the resources and voices of the community around them.  It also serves as a forum for students and community alike to practice articulating critical standpoints and testing their ideas. By presenting free lectures and symposia by local and international experts in pressing fields of public interest, the Institute provides the public and the Burlington College community an opportunity to participate in political, social, and cultural discourse and to immediately use newly-gained perspectives to impact policy and debate on local and global stages.


Goddard College continues to offer the Goddard Model of non-traditional education by allowing adults to gain a degree while continuing their lives and careers.  Located in the small town of Plainfield for 70 years, it enriches the region with 100+ different students every month.  One of the greatest impacts has been the generations of students who moved to Vermont and are responsible for many central Vermont landmarks:  Small Dog Electronics, Buch Spieler Music, Contemporary Dance & Fitness Studio, Catamount Arts, Magic Hat Brewing, Phish (band), Turtle Island Child Center, Artisans Hand Cooperative, Studio Place Arts, Winooski Hydroelectric, and Global Gifts, in addition to many writers, artists, and musicians.


The Vermont College of Fine Arts' passion is to share the arts with the local Montpelier community. VCFA hosts a summer program called "Movies on the Hill" - a free outdoor film series for the public on the Vermont College of Fine Arts campus. For eight weeks, VCFA shows classic family-friendly films under the stars. In addition, this graduate school for art and writing opens all of its lectures, readings, and gallery shows to the local community. The college regularly hosts nationally known fiction writers, young adult writers, and visual artists.

Enriching Life in Vermont

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